I’m disturbed by the amount of sentiment I’m suddenly reading and hearing from baseball pundits to put Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame. Most are incorrectly using the same argument I used this week to justify putting steroid-era players into Cooperstown — because their numbers obviously make them worthy. Gambling on baseball is in NO WAY tantamount to using performance enhancing drugs to gain a competitive advantage and can NEVER be rewarded. In many ways, it’s the complete opposite type of insidious transgression.
ESPN Radio’s Jonathan Coachman and Bram Weinstein ranted Thursday about none of the obviously qualified players being elected to the Hall this week, much like I did, but then inexplicably extended the argument to include Rose. They even when so far as to say Rose was “probably trying harder than most to win” since he has money on the game. Not only is that illogical, it’s incredibly naive. Showing a clear misunderstanding of the insidious nature of gambling, Coach and Co. failed to realize gamblers can easily fall prey to an unseemly element that seeks to control the outcome of games to guarantee their winnings. As manager and player for the Cincinnati Reds, Rose was in a unique position to control those results. Coachman and other fools like him then argue that Rose bet on the Reds to win, not lose games so . But what obvious message does that send on the days Rose didn’t bet on the Reds for those in the know? It wouldn’t take a genius to realize those might be good days to bet against the Reds, yet this logic still eludes these nitwits.
Baseball has understood this all too well since the Black Sox scandal of 1919 when eight players conspired to throw the World Series. The owners knew no one would pay a dime to see a game whose results were fixed and hired the iron-fisted Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to decisively and emphatically rid the game of it once and for all. Baseball’s gambling policy is still prominently displayed in every locker room. Players even have to sign a statement affirming that they understand the rule.
While steroid use is nefarious in its own way, it is impossible to assert that anyone took PEDs to lose games. I mean, they’re called performance enhancing drugs, not performance detracting drugs for a reason. Baseball has also made this same clear distinction between the evils of gambling and PED use. Rose and other convicted gamblers like him have been completely banished from the game and have never even been listed on any ballot for the Hall of Fame, thus none has ever been considered by the writers for election. Meanwhile, players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemensdo appear on the ballot and are eligible since they have never been banned from the game like Rose.
The sad fact remains that baseball created the PED era by not drafting any rules against them until it was way too late. Fortunately, while players’ physiques and stats were inflated as a result, this gross negligence never adversely affected the outcomes of games the way gambling did. At least we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt those assholes were trying to win.